Sheep My Safely Graze by. J.S. Bach
The Fourth Sunday of Easter, or Good Shepherd Sunday, brings us the 23rd psalm and scripture of the shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. Sheep May Safely Graze is a familiar and favorite soprano aria for this Sunday. The Cantata (BWV 208) that this piece comes from was commissioned in 1713 for the birthday celebration of Christian, the Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels.
Years ago, I heard Arlene Auger sing this aria accompanied by strings and flutes, and I was sure I would never play it again and do it justice. However, it has been requested so very often for weddings, funerals, and church services, that we have searched out transcriptions for different instrumentation and voice and enjoyed it.
Sara van der Horst is playing “the sheep” for us today on flute, and we are so pleased to hear from her. Sara continues in the Washington D.C area and writes that the cherry blossoms were wonderful this year: a sure sign of spring! Sara is the daughter of Rob and Karen van der Horst.
I am at the piano, and my son, Reade James, has put this recording together for us. We thank both Sara and Reade for donating their time and talents to St John’s. – by Darlene James